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"Anatomy of a Scene: A Deep Dive into Dialogue" ONLINE with Stacey Swann

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10/10/2020 From 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM


$99 for Members
$159 for Non-Members


The submission deadline for this class has passed. Scenes are no longer being accepted for workshop.

Registration is STILL OPEN. You still can attend the workshop section if you did not submit a scene or have your scene choosen.

This class is a part of the Anatomy of a Scene Class Package.

Talent for dialogue is not an inborn skill. Anyone can learn to write razor-sharp dialogue!

As readers, there are probably a lot of craft issues we can look past. We can forgive less than inspired descriptions if the characters win our hearts. Or we can handle slightly flat characters if the plot sizzles with tension. However, if the book or story we’re reading has cliched, dull, or simply lackluster dialogue, it will be hard to keep turning the pages. Every stilted line will remind us we’re reading words on a page and keep us from immersing in the world. But there’s good news, too! More than any other aspect of writing, there are clear and useful rules for creating effective dialogue.

In the morning session of this class, we will explore all the major aspects of dialogue writing: how to avoid the most common mechanical errors, how to let your characters’ voices emerge through dialogue, how to handle interior monologue, and how to craft the best physical beats and descriptions to surround your dialogue. We’ll pull back to investigate the best ways to craft entire scenes that are dialogue-based. In the afternoon, we’ll dig deep into the 10 selected scenes to hone these skills and practice implementing them. By the end of the day, students will have the toolset to create conversations that crackle and pop!

The Workshop

Every registrant will have the chance to submit a scene for the workshop in the afternoon portion of the class. The instructor will choose 10 submissions to workshop in the afternoon. The class will receive the chosen scenes ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page. Everyone who registers will be allowed to ‘view’ and participate in the workshop, although they might not have their own work critiqued (again, only 10 will be chosen).

Submission Guidelines:
All submissions should be double-spaced, in 12 pt font, Times New Roman, and 3 pages max. Please follow standard margin guidelines and submit as a Word document.



  • You're writing a novel, short stories, a memoir, or personal essays. 
  • You've ever thought "Dialogue is not my forte." 
  • You're ever confused by dialogue punctuation and mechanics.
  • Your dialogue sometimes sounds unnatural or awkward. 

  • You'd like to add more dialogue to your existing scenes. 


Stacey Swann holds an MFA from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a Contributing Editor of American Short Fiction. Her debut novel, OLYMPUS, TX, is forthcoming from Doubleday in May 2021.



Online classroom



$99 members (sign in for member pricing)

$159 nonmembers


Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

Online registration will close at 5pm on Friday, October 9. If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it. If you prefer this option, please email with a copy of the form as well. We are working out of our office at this time. 

Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at and let us know so that we can update the class roster.


Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven't taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to email
WLT Program Director Sam Babiak at if you'd like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.



Once you register for the class, you'll receive an email with detailed instructions. You should expect 2-2.5 hours of direct teaching and 30 minutes of Q&A (for three hours total). If you need to leave the class early or can't attend the class on that date, all registrants will have access to the recording for the entire month of October. No microphone or camera required, just an Internet connection capable of streaming video. All online classes are hosted on Zoom. To learn more about how Zoom works, click HERE

A couple of days before the class, you will receive an email with login information. Plan to log in to the online platform several hours before the class so that you can update your computer's Flash or any other settings required to access the platform. (Updates usually take only a few minutes, but you don't want to wait until the beginning of class.) Questions? Email us at


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at

Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to


This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit


 This project is supported in part by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information, go to